100 153 Lestes virgatus Smokey Spreadwing Male Mabusa Nature Reserve MP RSA Dec 2017r 11 100 151 Lestes virgatus Smokey Spreadwing Male Mabusa Nature Reserve MP RSA Dec 2017r 9 100 008 Lestes virgatus Smokey Spreadwing Male Kimiad Pretoria GP RSA Oct 2015 r 6

Smoky Spreadwing.     Rookspanvlerkie.

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Short Description:

Smoky Spreadwing, Lestes virgatus, Genus Lestes, Family Lestidae, fairly large, slender, dull metallic green, striped, and with distinctly smoky wings. The only metallic green spread wing,

Key identification features:


  • Thorax slender, multi-coloured , metallic green, yellowish brown and dark brown with a buff stripe on the side of the thorax.
  • Eyes blue (diagnostic)A
  • Wings dark smoky wings. Short pterostigmas are distinctly swollen with a buff center and a dark rim.
  • Abdomen is above dark metallic green with partial yellowish rings on S 2-7. Only S 9 pruinescent. S 10 and superior appendages blackish Superior appendages has large coarse teeth along the inner edge. Inferior appendages are pyramid shaped.


  • Stouter than male, reddish and blackish brown, also with striped thorax; underside of thorax buff
  • Wings less smoky bthan male’s.
Compared with other species:
  • The only metallic green Lestes. It has smoky wings and blue eyes. The pterostigmas swollen and pale centred.
Distribution and habitat:
  • From S Cape eastwards through KZN to the northern parts of South Africa
  • This is a highly seasonal species. It has been recorded from pools and swamps edges mostly in the tall grass and sedge in forest or woodland.
  • Mainly a highland species.
  • Hangs with wings outstretched from grass stems. Lays egs in the stems of sedge grass.
Further reading:
Distribution Map Books:
A Guide to Dragonflies and Damselflies of South Africa ... p. 26  
Dragonflies and Damselflies of South Africa ... p. 50
Dragonfly Biotic Index ... p. 57
The Dragonflies and Damselflies of Eastern Africa ... p. 65
Websites of interest:
Warwick Tarboton
A Visual Guide to the Damselflies and Dragonflies of South Africa
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Odonata Atlas of Africa. VMU Number 660300
Other Information:
Size Comparison Diagram
Morphology of a
Dragonfly, Damselfly
Map of South Africa

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